The University football squad have been back in Oxford training hard for the new season.
The Blues, led by captain Alex Tsaptsinos, have been integrating a large number of new players this year. They got off to a winning start in their first pre-season game away at Brunel University.
With five debutants in the starting lineup, the game could’ve easily escaped the Blues from the beginning. However, after five minutes, they were one up; captain Tsaptsinos got his reign off to a great start with a driven finish from the edge of the area following some good build up down the left by Brook Tozer and Blues debutant Adriaan Hilbers. After Blues dominance for the first half an hour, Brunel achieved parity with a long ball over the top and a composed chip over goalkeeper Blane Scott.
The game started to become stretched prior to half time and the Blues lost two players to injury, debutants Henry Smith and Tom Faktor. This brought another debut from Cian Wade, in the unfamiliar position of centre back. The injury drama increased as Blues stalwart centre back Michael Moneke then went down after dislocating his shoulder. Half time was a welcome break.
Moneke lined up for the start of the second half, playing through the pain he was clearly in. After twenty minutes, though, his shoulder dislocated again. Nevertheless, the Blues carried on for the rest of the game with ten men as a training exercise. In the interim, man of the match Sam Gomarsall finished off another great move down the left flank. Rising like a salmon after a cross from Mike Feeney, he beat the keeper with a powerful header for his first goal for the Blues in 25 appearances.
Some good defending from the Blues and hard running up front from Ed Mole and James Somerville ensured the game finished up 2-1.
The Centaurs (University 2nd team) were also in action with a new captain, Joe Fowles, as well as a new coach, Nathan King. After an intense few days of training, the Centaurs were handed their first pre-season challenge in the form of the Lloyds Insurance team, who made the long and convoluted journey to Pembroke Sports Ground for the occasion.
The Centaurs were clearly the better of the two teams in the opening exchanges. Dan Brown and debutant Callum Akass deserve an honourable mention, dominating midfield and looking comfortable on the ball.
This sustained midfield pressure led to the first goal, John Dinneen practically tying the defender’s shoelaces together and leaving him no choice but to bundle him over in the box. Dinneen stepped up and calmly slotted the re- sulting penalty; making the score 1-0 the break.
Though two goals before the break by an increasingly confident Lloyds side made the final score 2-1, the Centaurs put in a confident performance and should be proud of their first outing